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Princeton students upset when professor uses n-word in class on hate speech

New Jersey

Carol Ozemhoya | OW Contributor | 2/12/2018, 10:50 a.m.
Several students walked out of an anthropology course at...

Several students walked out of an anthropology course at Princeton University last Tuesday after a professor repeatedly used a racial slur in his class about hate speech. According to the Huffington Post, the professor – Laurence Rosen – is an award-winning legal anthropologist who has taught at Princeton University for 40 years. He received emeritus status last year. Rosen’s course – “Cultural Freedoms: Hate Speech, Blasphemy and Pornography” – explores the legal and cultural limits of free speech. Last week, he led a discussion on verbal symbols and what types of speech should be protected. The heated debate that followed was first reported on by the Daily Princeton. Destiny Salter, a 19-year-old Princeton student who identifies as Black, told HuffPost that about 10 minutes into the class, Rosen gave this example: “Which is more provocative: A white man walks up to a Black man and punches him in the nose, or a white man walks up to a Black man and calls him a nr?” He repeated the example once more, leaving students “shocked and visibly uncomfortable,” Salter said. A few minutes later, students began to point out their discomfort with a white professor using the word in its entirety. When one student asked if Rosen planned to keep repeating the word in future classes, the professor reportedly responded that he would if he deemed it necessary for the discussion. Rosen then said, “I purposely did that, because I wanted everyone to feel the power of that word,” Salter told HuffPost. “As if Black people haven’t been feeling the full power of the N-word for the past 400 years,” she said. At that point, Salter said she and another student decided to walk out of the class. At least one other student left the class that day as well. Salter dropped the class after university officials said they would not reprimand the professor, that the discussion of the n-word is part of that class.